Name: Rhonda Ekwunoh
Alma Mater: Carlow University
STEM Career Path: Fourth Grade Math Teacher
Who/What inspired you to become interested in math?
RE: Math has always been my favorite subject. When I was in elementary school, middle school, and high school I always took advanced math classes. So my love for math followed me into my adulthood, which led me to becoming a math teacher.
What has been the most interesting part of your career?
RE: The most interesting part of my career was definitely my first year of teaching. During this time, I was also a full time graduate student. My first year was crazy lol. I learned a lot of lessons and learned about myself and what kind of educator I wanted to be. It has prepared me to become the teacher I am today.
Why do you feel It is important to get more women/girls into STEM fields?
RE: I believe it is important because we need to continue to break barriers. Growing up, there was a stigma that girls weren't "good at" STEM subjects. I was often one of few black women in my advanced math courses. We are more than capable and we have to teach young women to be confident in these areas. Also STEM fields are the highest earning careers!
RE: What valuable lessons have you learned pertaining to finding new ways to engage your students in math?
I learned to be myself and to input love of blackness to my kids. I teach 98% students who identify as black or latino. So in my class, my students are 'melaninated mathematicians.' I build love of their identity while also teaching them math. For example, each week we highlight a different black mathematician who made history in math. I believe this has really invested my kids in math.
If you could sit down and have a conversation with one woman in STEM who would it be and why?
RE: Hmmm. I would like to have a conversation with Katherine Johnson because she was a mover and shaker and made history for black women.
Best Advice You Have Ever Received?
RE: Do what you know is best for your students. This advice changed the way I thought about teaching. Instead of worrying about what my school leaders may say or following a lesson plan so strictly, I have learned that I know my kids best because I'm with them everyday, so I need to do whats best for them and do what they need.
Fun Fact about you.
RE: I was born in Germany (:
For young women interested in pursuing STEM education how can they get started?
RE: Start young! Start taking STEM classes in school. This will build your foundational knowledge which will then expand in college and beyond.
Thank You Rhonda For Being a fly melaninated mathematician!
Facebook: Rhonda Ekwunoh